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Kazakhstan May Restrict Loan Guarantees by Foreign Banks

Kazakhstan’s central bank may restrict foreign banks from providing guarantees used by their units in the country to underwrite loans because that gives them an advantage over local lenders.

“This question is under discussion,” central bank Deputy Chairman Daniyar Akishev said in interview today in the financial capital, Almaty. “We want the conditions to be equal for everyone.”

The central bank “reckons” foreign banks should inject capital instead of providing guarantees, said Akishev, adding that overseas lenders say this may boost lending costs in Kazakhstan. He declined to say when a decision would be made.

UniCredit SpA signed a guarantee agreement with its ATF Bank unit in December 2009, which underwrites corporate loans of $2.8 billion, ATF Bank said on its website last month. Under this guarantee that could run until April 2029, loan losses of more than $728 million are guaranteed by Italy’s biggest bank.

UniCredit declines to comment on political debates in Kazakhstan, said Tiemon Kiesenhofer, a Vienna-based bank spokesman. ATF Bank didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

ATF Bank and its subsidiaries recognized cumulative loan losses and an associated right to compensation from UniCredit of $597 million under the guarantee agreement as of June 30. UniCredit paid $2.12 billion for control of ATF Bank in 2007.

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